RLSP president Upendra Kushwaha, who quit the BJP-led NDA, joined the grand alliance in Bihar on Thursday.
The former Union minister joined the UPA fold after meeting the leaders of “mahagathbandhan” in Bihar, including Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi, RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav and Congress’ Ahmed Patel and Shaktisinh Gohil at the AICC office in Delhi.
Congress Ahmed Patel said it was a matter of happiness Upendra Kushwaha was joining the “mahagathbandhan”.
The former minister’s joining the UPA is likely to give a boost to the formation of a grand alliance in Bihar to counter the NDA combine of Bhartiya Janata Party-Janata Dal(U)-Lok Janshakti Party.
After joining the grand alliance, Kushwaha said that RLSP had many options and UPA was one of them. “The wholeheartedness shown by Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Yadav is one of the reasons I joined but the biggest reason I’m here is the people of Bihar,” he said.
The Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP), which has three members in parliament, pulled out of the NDA on December 10 after weeks of seething over the BJP’s seat-sharing deal with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, which left smaller parties with lesser seats to contest in the 2019 national polls.
Kushwaha has been targeting the BJP and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for weeks.
He has been upset with the BJP after it asserted that the RLSP would not be given more than two seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, even as it went out of the way to accommodate Kumar by agreeing that the saffron party and the JD(U) would fight an equal number of seats.
“Nearly five years ago I joined the National Democratic Alliance, under your leadership, with tremendous hope and expectations. During the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, you made several commitments to the people of Bihar and to the nation at large. It was in this context that I had extended my unconditional support to the BJP,” Kushwaha said in his resignation letter.
Kushwaha was the Minister of State for Human Resource Development at the Centre.
Kushwaha had last month set a deadline of November 30 for the BJP to make its stand on seat sharing clear, saying “It would be very harmful for the NDA if a decision on seat-sharing is not taken soon. We must get a respectful number of seats.”
Most RLSP leaders were in favour of Kushwaha announcing the split.
The Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Former Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi-led Hindustani Awam Morcha (Secular) are already part of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and are seeking to give a fight to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
The saffron alliance had swept the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, winning 31 of the state’s 40 seats.